I’m trying out for a local dragon boat team.

It’s my first time back in the water after four years. My last race was Boracay in April 2018. I stayed on with my former team until the end of that year since I was an officer. But I stopped paddling because it was a very tough time for me emotionally.

But here I am, almost on a whim, dusting off my wooden paddle and feeling a familiar adrenaline rush. Imagine going back to a hobby with all its routines and quirks. Like putting mineral water in the freezer so by the time you’re finished with your warm-up paddle out to Sheares Bridge, you have icy water to cool you down. Or assembling your post-training clothes in a packing cube: should I pack a singlet or a dry-fit shirt? Where are my toiletries?

While I’m happy so far with the local team I’ve got my eyes on (and have trained with for two weekends already), it’s too early to say because I’m trying out and I don’t know if there’s a rigid fitness test or if the membership fee is crazy high. But the victory is silent, it’s the one I feel in my heart. I’ve mustered the courage to return to Kallang.

The pontoon at Kallang Water Sports Centre at 6:45 in the morning.

The schedule so far for this local dragon boat team is Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 AM sharp. It’s a combined land and water training. The first hour is dedicated to land training and includes warm-ups, a sizeable run (2.7km in the first instance, 5km yesterday), and some callisthenics. At exactly 8:00 AM, we’re in the water in two small boats or one big boat. We paddle out to Sheares Bridge and towards Gardens by the Bay following a programme which includes pair-by-pair, half boat, and full boat. It’s all familiar to me. The commands given are different from what I’m used to, but the idea is all the same when it comes to dragon boating. You paddle as one.

We return to the pontoon right before 10:00 AM where I’ve noticed the next teams under Singapore Dragon Boat Association (SDBA) are all warmed up to take the boats out to the basin. I think it works like 8:00 – 10:00 AM and 10:00 AM to 12:00 NN, because the area gets hella busy right before 8:00 AM and right before 10:00 AM. Gosh, it’s a sight! Dragon boat paddlers from schools and other clubs are buzzing around the SDBA building, more like a beloved shack, in different uniforms. Fuck, I’ve missed this.

There’s a cooldown before a debrief. This is almost standard with all dragon boat teams. The local team I’ve trained with the past two weekends is much smaller than my former team, but they are very fit. They certainly don’t look like they’re joking around (which is what I like). I’m here to train hard, improve my body, and contribute my strength and endurance to the team. I hope that’s one of the better takeaways I have from my former team.

I’ll see how it goes. πŸ™‚

I never quite imagined I’d have all of this back out again.

Also, I’ve joined a running club! We run every Thursday evening from Downtown MRT to Stadium MRT. It’s a group I’ve been familiar with for years but only got to join in 2023. It’s an LGBTQ-friendly running group. More about that in another post.

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